Coloring Cherry with Lye

Just a beginner here and I'm trying to use some of my new (limited) skills to make some Christmas presents. I have been reading about using lye to darken cherry similar to what it would look like if it had aged naturally and I had a question. I have made a couple of boxes with hard curly maple tops trimmed with cherry. If I am careful and try minimize the amount of solution I applied on the maple will the solution affect the maple? The town I live in hasn't got anywhere I can find lye, but I'm hoping to make it to civilization Friday (Green Bay, WI). I'm wondering if it would be worthwhile even trying it or if someone might know what would happen to the curly maple. Some of the cherry I have is darker than the rest and I want to try to make it all match and be darker. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Doug Goulden wrote:

I really don't know what it will do to maple but I do know it will darken cherry. You said you can't find lye. Most oven cleaners contain lye. Just look on the can at the supermarket. Also you will need to neutralize the lye after it's done it's work. You can wipe it down with bakingsoda and water. Then give it a light sanding to take down the fuz from the water.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Jody wrote:

Any Walmart or large grocery store will have Red Devil Lye in the cleaning section. It's pure enough for use in photographic solutions, and so it'll be plenty pure for your use.
-Peter
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Watch out for drain cleaners which contain metal.

Friday
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I don't think baking soda will go a long way towards neutralizing lye. What reaction are you suggesting is going to occur? (Hey, I've been wrong before.) bob g.
Jody wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Lye is available at most grocery stores with the drain cleaners. I have used the Red Devil brand. I added a couple of tablespoons to two quarts of warm water and stirred GENTLY. Use rubber gloves. Apply liberally to the wood. After a minute or two, rinse with lots of clear water (take it outside and use the hose!). I used diluted white vinegar to neutralize it and then rinsed again. This process really raises the grain. Fortunately, the color change penetrates the wood a little so that sanding off the fuzz doesn't cut through the color. Be careful and good luck!
Grant
Jody wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Well, no, no, and no.
Many oven cleaners do contain lye, but they also contain perfumes, solvents, and a bunch of other things that you probably don't want on your project. Better to just use pure lye (Red Devil brand from your local grocery store, on the same aisle as the drain cleaners) and not have to worry about what else is in there.
Baking soda, being another base, won't neutralize lye. You need an acid to do that; vinegar works just fine.
But it's *not* necessary to neutralize the lye, and in fact doing so alters the color. It *is* necessary to remove any *unreacted* lye from the surface of the wood, but rinsing (or wiping) with pure water is sufficient to do that.

After allowing it to dry completely, of course. :-)
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
Get a copy of my NEW AND IMPROVED TrollFilter for NewsProxy/Nfilter by sending email to autoresponder at filterinfo-at-milmac-dot-com You must use your REAL email address to get a response.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Thanks for the help everybody, I'll look into the oven cleaner option close to home here.... I was also wondering about swiping my step daughter's black light..... its UV, wonder if that would hurry the process naturally. We haven't been seeing much sun here in the UP lately.

skills
on
got
match
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
The comment about metal in oven cleaner is a good one. Drano has aluminum chips in it. The lye attacks the aluminum and produces heat and agitation. Good in a clogged drain but probably not much help in your project. (Not aware of what the downside might be.) Your daughter's black light is almost undoubtedly long wave UV. This is the kind best suited for making things "fluoresce". Short wave length UV is the kind that gives you a sun tan (burn). I think it's more effective in producing color changes, bleaching, expediting chemical reactions in general.
bob g.
Doug Goulden wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
And hydrogen gas.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
The evolution of hydrogen gas is what produces the agitation.
bob g.
George wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
C'mon, it's sunny now. You can see all the Finns out there pointing at that unfamiliar golden fire in the sky.
Blacklight works, but none of the methods produces the same effect as aging under a finish, in my opinion. They always look a bit muddy due to surface degrade.

close
black
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Is that what that thing is? I was starting to wonder. Hell in about 5 months I won't remember what the thing is at all :/

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

<snip>
Last year's natural cherry cabinet sits in a bright corner with a plant on top. When dusting, I realize that the plant coaster had left a "light spot" in the darkening top. The plant is now moved, hoping it will even out, but we can still see the light (or no-light) spot after 4 months. Maybe should have aged a year before placing something on top?
merle
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
It'll get there. I use air-dried, so it's not much of an issue. KD stuff takes a long time to get anywhere.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I've colored lots of cherry with lye.
You can buy lye at most groceries or hardware stores.
First of all: Wear eye protection! you don't want to get any on you --- especially the eyes
Second, wear neoprene gloves.
Mix a weak lye solution. Maybe 2t per quart at most. CAUTION --- Use COLD water. Dissolving lye will generate heat. and could bubble up with warm water.
Swab on the solution and let it sit until you get the color you want. Then rinse thoroughly first with cold water and then swab on some vinegar to neutralize any remaining lye. Rinse that and dry with a clean cloth.
I usually use a heat gun to evaporate the remaining water in the wood. This process may raise the grain slightly which you can smooth down with a fine grit abrasive or Scotch Brite pad.
Then finish however you want --- linseed oil, tung oil, paste wax, Watco, Briwax, varnish, Danish oil .... It all looks good.
I don't know how lye affect maple. I'd suggest testing on a piece of scrap.
Joel
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

Any hardware store, and most grocery stores, will have Red Devil lye in the same place that they have Drano, Liquid Plumber, etc.

The lye won't affect the maple. But whatever you use to apply the lye to the cherry, be it a damp rag, a sponge, a brush, or whatever, will pick up a considerable amount of color from the cherry, and you'll have to be *very* careful to avoid wiping any of that onto the maple. IMO it's likely that there will be some bleeding anyway: the lye will dampen the cherry, and some of that moisture is bound to wick over into the maple, and bring the color along.
You might consider fuming the piece with ammonia instead; do a Google Groups search on this newsgroup for ammonia + fuming + cherry and I think you'll find some good information.
Either way, make a mockup from scrap and test on that first. Remember, if you don't practice on scrap, you're practicing on your project.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
Get a copy of my NEW AND IMPROVED TrollFilter for NewsProxy/Nfilter by sending email to autoresponder at filterinfo-at-milmac-dot-com You must use your REAL email address to get a response.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.